Red Zone

Chiefs defensive snap decisions: Tamba Hali, Justin Houston step up in smash-mouth win

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston sacked Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian during Sunday’s game.
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston sacked Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian during Sunday’s game.

Here is the defensive snap-count data from the Chiefs’ 30-27 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, along with some thoughts from coach Andy Reid, personal observations and advanced stats. Snaps for the entire season are also listed.

KEY: “*” denotes starter. “R” denotes rookie. “C” denotes game captain. “INJ” denotes injury. “N/A” denotes the player was not a Chief at the time. “PS” denotes practice squad. “INA” denotes inactive.


Rakeem Nunez-Roches*5947321395PSPSPSN/AINA16521.2%
Chris Jones (R)*575145442839212616181235745.9%
Kendall Reyes5123351232N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A12616.2%
Jarvis Jenkins4214N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A567.2%
Dontari Poe*146662615463505045495556973.1%
Jaye HowardINJINJINJ414555423445504836042.3%
Allen BaileyIRIRIRIRIRIR123837425218123.3%
Nick WilliamsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A486128384.9%

Analysis: Poe only played 14 snaps, but he deserves a round of applause for giving you that much. He missed two of the last three practices last week with a back issue, and he still started the game and played well as long as he could. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Poe had back spasms, but the fact Poe just had back surgery a year ago is worrisome. The guy is in a contract year and he tried to tough it out for his team in a massive game, anyway. Nunez-Roches continues to see his workload increase for the sixth straight week, as his quickness and unbridled enthusiasm is endearing. This was the first time all year he outsnapped Jones, by the way. “They’re playing hard and they’re playing aggressive,” Reid said. “They’re young but they’re working the scheme the way it’s supposed to be worked. I’m not telling you everything they do is right, but the majority of the time, it is.” Reyes and Jenkins, who were each signed off the street in recent weeks, each stepped in to give the banged-up interior — which played the entire second half without a single projected starter before the year — some valuable snaps.


Tamba Hali*833027534446262046314244857.6%
Frank Zombo103245241635283853535038449.4%
Dadi Nicolas (R)0INA000027100101.3%
Dee FordINJ3672766269434128625454369.8%
Dezman MosesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A880N/A162.0%

Analysis: Perhaps the best indication of the Chiefs’ desire to win this game was the removal of Hali’s pitch count. Reid wasn’t messing around in this one, as Hali logged 83 of 84 possible snaps — the first time all year he’s come close to carrying a full workload. “He needs to get in the flow of the game, and we wanted to help him out with that,” Reid said. “He’s in good shape now and it’s about that time of year you can increase his reps a bit.” And without Ford, the Chiefs got Houston back in the fold, as he played 89 percent of the defensive snaps after playing 71 percent of them last week. “It would have taken an army to keep him out of there,” Reid said. Heck you can argue the only reason Zombo got so many snaps is because Houston briefly left the game at the end of the first half with a shoulder injury. Houston, by the way, recorded an insane 10 stops, according to Pro Football Focus, and his pass-rush game (three sacks, four hurries) was on point, too.


Derrick Johnson*757754776675545868727374996.2%
Ramik Wilson*514467301828PSPSPSPSPS23830.6%
D.J. Alexander3000000100040.5%
Justin March-LillardIRIRIRIRIRIR183516325015119.4%
Sam BarringtonN/AN/AN/AN/AINA00INAINJINJ000.0%

Analysis: The heavy workload for Wilson continues; he’s played 162 snaps the last three weeks, which is a lot for the No. 2 inside linebacker in today’s NFL. But the Broncos’ reliance on running the ball meant for a “trench” game. Alexander also logged four snaps, including a hit-stick stuff on a running play. “He did well,” Reid said. “He made a couple nice plays on the defensive side.”


Marcus Peters*84INJ70776675445968727268788.3%
Phillip Gaines*8441176454INJ12INJ55585143656.0%
Kenneth Acker417426000INA0INAINAINA14118.1%
D.J. White (R)30INJINJINJ60373050113617.5%
Terrance Mitchell0PSPSINA0INAPSPSPSPSPS00.0%
Steven NelsonINJ7770766675555368707068087.4%

Analysis: For the first time all season, Gaines played every defensive snap for the Chiefs. Reid said Gaines, who has been dealing with issues in his surgically-repaired knee all year, has been feeling better, which is why he got the nod over Acker, who started over him last week. “He didn’t have any of that (trouble) this week, and he wanted to be in there,” Reid said of Gaines. Teams’ hesitance to throw at Peters — he was only targeted four times on 38 attempts, according to PFF (he allowed two catches for 19 yards) — means that the other corners will always have a busy day, and Gaines was no different, as the Broncos completed six of 11 passes his way for 209 yards. Gaines was targeted five times against receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who caught four passes on him for 127 yards and a touchdown (PFF).


Ron Parker*847772776675555968727277799.9%
Eric Berry* (C)847672776675555968727377799.9%
Dan Sorensen222617444744362137261933943.6%
Eric Murray (R)112154114210324.1%

Analysis: Berry and Parker continue to be the backbone of the Chiefs’ defense; each player has only missed a single snap all season. Berry set the tone Sunday with a ferocious display of hitting. “He came in with a strong purpose,” Reid said. “He clearly had something in mind there that he was going to bring to the table.” Sorensen was only needed on about 24 percent of the snaps; Denver used a ton of sets with tight ends and/or fullbacks so the Chiefs didn’t turn to their dime personnel very much. According to PFF, this was the first time all season the Chiefs ran more defensive plays with four players in the secondary as opposed to five.